State of the job market

The recent global recession has been a real boom time for me. I’ve switched jobs several times and now gone self employed. When I was lead developer over at Buzz we couldn’t hire people fast enough, and even when we could, the often ended up going elsewhere as other companies desperately tried to attract them with ever spiraling pay increases. Kick backs for referrals started reaching four figures.

Never the less, I heard a lot in the media, and from other people, about how hard it was to get a job and about the record levels of unemployment. The news is full of headlines about how bad things are.

I put it down to the industry I was in. We must be an island, resilient to the global economic downturn, ever-expanding while the rest of the world was reseeding. Sure it was easy to get a job if you worked in software development, but everyone else must be struggling.

Then, in April, Elina moved over to the UK. She had just graduated and had no real work experience. But together we wrote her a CV, put together a “job hunting action plan” and did some interview practice. Within two weeks she had a series of interviews lined up and was offered two of the first three she went to.

In fact, they wanted to start her so quickly that she had already done two days work for one company before receiving a better offer and leaving to go another one.

This once again made me question as to whether there really were no jobs available out there. We certainly didn’t find a lack of them when looking for Elina – just trawling through Gumtree threw up dozens of local vacancies each day.

Having spent three years working at McDonald’s, I have quite a few friends still working in McManagement. Conversations with them tell a similar story to the IT industry – they’ve been pretty much continually recruiting throughout the entire recession.

Last weekend, I also spoke to my auntie who works for a charity shop. While she took the job part-time to give her something to do in her retirement, she is currently working full time because they can’t fill the two paid vacancies they have at the moment.

So if the industry I work in has plenty of jobs, the industry my friends work in has plenty of jobs, the industry my relatives work in has plenty of jobs and Elina can get a job without any real work experience in only a matter of weeks, how then can you make the case that there are no jobs available?

The answer is, I’m not sure you can. The last resort of an answer I could pull up was perhaps due to age barriers as most of my friends are young – but as I’ve already said, my auntie has retired once!

That then opens the question up as to why there is so much unemployment.

Two answers spring to mind.

First off, people just won’t take the jobs available. It’s almost certainly no coincidence that the biggest constant in recruitment are companies like McDonald’s – nobody wants to work there. Many people consider themselves too good to work there. You can argue that it is demeaning for people with a degree to go work in fast food, but I think that is a real insult to people like myself and Norman who did go work there – and we’ll both tell you that we learnt loads!

Not to mention the fact that a bachelor’s degree is far from anything special anymore. But more to the point, it’s totally reasonable for employers to want to hire well rounded people, who have some knowledge of the real world outside of academic the academic environment.

Secondly, I think there is a failure of our education system to prepare people to job hunt. When I finished school, I will put my hand up and admit that I didn’t know how to job hunt. We had gone over writing a CV at school but that is about where it ends.

Job hunting is a lot of work! Loads! I actually much prefer being in a job (although being self-employed is even better) than looking for one because it’s LESS work. When you’re job hunting you need to be putting in a full 40 hour week, you need to be up first thing in a morning, looking presentable to go round speaking to people. When I’m working I can role out of bed any time up until 10am (I like to be in the office by 7:30, but the point is I could go in at 10), and turn up in “whatever you wake up in” – that’s a quote from one of my manager’s.

But I didn’t realise how much effort was required. Nobody at school ever said to me, “it should be a 40 hour week and you need to make sure you have an action plan and a spreadsheet of who you have contacted and when you’re chasing them up.” School should be teaching that because otherwise, it is no wonder that people are unable to find themselves one of the many jobs that are out there.



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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 at 12:51 pm and is filed under Religion & Politics, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.